Two Schools of Thought: making sense of the Book of Exodus
The view of the contributors of the body of work we refer to as the Bible is different from ours.
So, contrary to the simplistic tradition of just following the leading of the ‘Holy Spirit’, or fasting and praying earnestly for revelation; in order to understand the intentions of these writers we will need to go into their world.
Two fundamental principles are at play in our quest for understanding, they are: objective and subjective reality.
In academia, the term objective refers to a reality that is outside of one’s mind, while subjective refers to the inner reality of one’s mind.
This inner reality of one’s mind is broadly shaped by culture, education, personal experience, collective experience, religion, and philosophy.
So, similar to other ancient religions, for the Jews, reality is not seen objectively, but rather, through the lenses of a theological framework. As such, subject to biases. Consequently, Truth as a concept it in fact relative, as to the common notion of being absolute.
The implication of this is that history, data, and facts as we know today are not the reality of the contributors of the Bible. Hence, we struggle to make sense of stories like Adam and Eve, Tower of Babel, Noah’s Ark etc.
Case in point, their defeat against the armies of the Babylonians was not seen as a defeat as one will treat it in historical sense. For them, it was not a defeat, but the Sovereign Lord’s punishment for their unfaithfulness to his covenant with them.
This method of interpretation of reality anchors the Text, hence the constant admonition in the New Testament to faith and not rationality. This was vital, especially for gentiles (non-Jews) who were being introduced into this new world, and Jews who had lost connection with their roots, owing to displacement through The Exile, and subsequent wars.
This is the challenge we face today when we try to rationalise the Text without doing the necessary theology, history, and textual analysis. When we do this, we are treating Scriptures as empirical or objective reality. Thus we start arguing with academics that the world was created in seven days, or that Noah’s Ark truly existed. When we do this we are merging two clearly distinct schools of thought: objective and subjective realities; and they are polar opposites.
The Bible is largely based on subjective reality. It was written with the biases of the contributors. This is reflected in the plots and character sketching. Therefore, if one is seeking objective versions of events, the Bible is not the right platform for such quest, academia will serve better.
Furthermore, If we really want to use the Bible as a tool for spiritual and social transformation, we will need to get into the world of its contributors, so that we can understand their message. Then we can begin the tedious work of extrapolation to see if, and how we can apply them to our world.
These writers are not writing in the same genres we know today, therefore, to understand the Bible, we will need to understand their theology or philosophical framework.
Join us for our seminar at 3pm
Scriptural focus: Exodus chapters 7-9 (NRSV)
St John the Evangelist Hall
Church Rd, Sidcup DA14 6BX
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Human Capital Development